Cincinnati: Controversy over school 'calming rooms'

Nov 8, 2017, Fox19, Cincinnati: ‘Calm rooms’ in schools creating panic for parents A FOX19 NOW Investigation looked at so-called "calming rooms" in Ohio schools. Now, a Clermont County mom is determined to be a beacon of change. Jennifer Janevski said her son struggled at his prior school, with their calming room set-up. Could Ohio schools be waiting to see how a high-profile Kentucky case shakes out, involving restraint and seclusion, before making their own policy changes? The case in Covington shocked a lot of people, who saw the now infamous YouTube video, of a special needs child, restrained in handcuffs and melting down. It was the purple marks under then 6-year-old Wyatt Janevski's arms, which put his mom Jennifer into a panic. "It was that evening and we were giving him a haircut," she said. "And when we lifted up his shirt, you could just see it plain as day, a hand print, in the shoulder, armpit area." Janevski believed her son had been assaulted at school and called Goshen Township to file a police report. "If I had left a hand print on him, someone would be investigating me as to why that happened," she said. Kindergarten teachers at Mar-Cook Elementary indicated in Wyatt's personal log last April, “Wyatt had a good day!” But further and it ends with a meltdown in art class, with him kicking the wall, his lunch bucket, chairs, and his teachers, who took him to a designated calm down area. "It has a desk in it. It's not a calm down room,” she said. “It's a small area within a janitor closet-like space, maybe a walk-in closet. It was pretty small." Goshen Superintendent Darrell Edwards, who declined an on-camera interview sent this statement Oct. 18 which read, "No there is no calm down closet. There is a calm down area in a room, for when on the rare occasion, students are experiencing distress where they may harm themselves or others and can deescalate and return to class." FOX19 NOW offered Edwards an opportunity to show the calming room and explain how it’s benefits both students and the teachers since they have one, but Edwards declined. … In Janevski's police report, it said it took two teachers holding him underneath his arms and another holding his legs. Principal Troy Smith had to step in as well. "Had to hold him so he wouldn't throw himself on the ground and hurt himself," the report stated. "They just went to the calm down room with me in their hands," said Wyatt…. In the end, police dismissed the case after investigating, the report stating, "Staff members were trying to prevent an out of control child from hurting himself or others." Both Ohio and Kentucky's regulations on calming or seclusion rooms are pretty vague. They're a little more detailed when it comes to restraining children. Wyatt's in a new school in a new district and seems to be doing better this year at school. A trial date for the lawsuit in Covington is expected any day now. FOX19 NOW offered Covington Schools a chance to comment on the positive things that have happened since the lawsuit, but they declined to be interviewed.